Melanie’s Law is the name of the law governing Massachusetts’ Operating Under the Influence (OUI) statute enacted in November 2005. A brief overview of the highlights of this law will show how uncompromising it is and how you must defend against it. Over the next few posts I will address each part of the law.

Breathalyzer Test Refusal.  There is a presumption that when you take the road behind the wheel of your car you have given the Commonwealth permission to test as to whether you are impaired in your ability to drive that car. Therefore, if you refuse to take a breathalyzer test your license will be automatically suspended for 180 days for a first refusal. However, if you are under 21 that suspension is three years.

In the past, a judge had the discretion to have this suspension run concurrent with a suspension that would occur as a result of sentencing. Not any more. Now the judge must have this suspension run consecutively with any other suspension, effectively increasing the amount of time you are without your license.

What if you are found “not guilty”? Now the judge has the discretion to restore your license. This is a rebuttable presumption unless it can be shown, by a preponderance of the evidence, that this would endanger public safety.

Next Post: What happens if you fail a breathalyzer test?


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